Creamy Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

It is my favorite season of the year. Time for boots, scarves, pumpkin spice everything and hearty, comfort food. I decided to whip up a soup this Sunday. I am hosting my nana and my aunt and I figured comfort food would be the way to go. This was my first time working with gnocchi and in true form I chose to make them myself instead of buying them from the store. Fortunately, it was not a tragedy. This soup is super flavorful and pretty damn easy to make! Feel free to use store bought gnocchi! I am not Ina Garten. Use what you want or what you got!

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Ingredients:

 

Large Onion

Celery

Carrots

4-5 cloves of garlic

Chicken

3 cups of half and half

1 ½ containers of low sodium chicken stock (32oz)

Kosher salt

Thyme

Rosemary

Three handfuls of fresh spinach

Splash of fish sauce

Splash of Worcestershire

6 tbsp unsalted butter

½ cup of flour

 

  1. Prepare your chicken as you prefer. I chose to roast three bone in chicken breasts at 400 degrees. I shredded the meat. Feel free to use your preferred cut of chicken or even a rotisserie chicken.20171015_15233020171015_16184220171015_162337
  2. Over medium heat, sautee your carrots, celery and onions until they’re softened. Towards the end add the garlic. Remove from the heat.
  3. Melt the butter and add the flour to create a roux.20171015_16351220171015_164018
  4. Add the half and half, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the chicken broth.
  6. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, this will thicken.
  7. Season to taste. I used thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, garlic and a couple of splashes of Worcestershire and fish sauce to deepen the savory flavor.20171015_165336
  8. If cooking: Remove your chicken, allow it to cool. Chop or shred. Add this to the soup.20171015_162701
  9. Taste and adjust your seasonings.
  10. Add gnocchi
  11. Add your spinach and allow it to wilt.20171015_173215
  12. Allow this to simmer
  13. Top with chopped tomato20171015_18265520171015_18265820171015_183117

My First Potato Gnocchi

I’ve been watching cooking shows and competitions five-ever. There are three things that I have simply never attempted because I imagined Gordon Ramsay looming over my kitchen and judging every step. Beef Wellington. Risotto. Gnocchi.

 

Today, I bit the bullet and decided to attempt gnocchi. I, however, do not own a food mill or potato ricer. I love kitchen gadgets but I have to rationalize its use. I can’t convince myself to buy gadgets that I’ll use once a year, hence, no ricer or mill. I hit the Googles to find out if it was possible to achieve this without those tools. Apparently, there is. I was skeptical but I figured I’d give it a shot.

 

2 lbs potatoes

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp kosher salt

Flour

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Pierce your potatoes with a fork and spread on a cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until fork tender.
  4. Allow to cool
  5. Peel the potatoes20171015_163515
  6. Using a ricer, food mill or grater (large holes) break down your potatoes20171015_16441320171015_164556
  7. Add salt and egg
  8. Add flour a little bit at a time; you do not want to over flour.
  9. Using a wooden spoon, your hands or a silicon spatula combine the dough. It should not stick to your hands.
  10. Flour your surface and knead your dough for 2-3 minutes.
  11. Cover with a towel as you work20171015_170153 (1)
  12. Cut a portion of the dough ball and roll into a snake, about 1/2” in diameter
  13. Cut little pillows20171015_172321
  14. I am no expert. I used YouTube to find out how to roll the dough on fork tines. You can try this or just leave them as pillowsgnochii
  15. If you’re going to cook them right away, one option is to cook them as you would pasta. Much like fresh pasta, these will float to the top. Once they float, allow them to cook for about a minute before draining.20171015_172816
  16. If you’re going to freeze them, flour a cookie sheet and spread the gnocchi there. Allow them to freeze then store them in a ziplock bag.

 

Who knew gnocchi wasn’t that scary after all?

 

 

Zucchini Ricotta Pizza with Shaved Brussel Sprouts, Tomato and Feta

This pizza is packed with veggies, herbs and several different kinds of cheeses. You can find a simple pizza dough recipe here. If you have a pizza stone, by all means use that. I do not have one so I tend to just use my cast iron griddle and cast iron pans to make my pizzas.

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Please be careful as there is a lot of putting in and taking out of the oven. You need to move pretty fast once you start the baking process so I strongly recommend prepping everything before you begin.

 

Balsamic reduction is a favorite of mine when it comes to tomatoes and Brussel sprouts, so I whipped up a small amount to drizzle over the pizza. That seriously took the whole dish to the next level. You can adapt this to use up whatever veg you have on hand. Season and adjust ingredients to suit your taste! At the base, it’s a simple dough and a simple ricotta mixture, feel free to customize and build upon it.

 

Ingredients:

 

Simple Pizza Dough

Ricotta Cheese

Milk

Parmesan

Italian Cheese Blend

Feta Cheese

Garlic cloves

Mint

Basil

Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

Thinly sliced, or shaved Brussel sprouts

Shaved zuchinni

Sliced tomato

Balsamic vinaigrette

Sugar

 

Directions:

 

  1. Preheat your cast iron (or pizza stone) in the oven at 500 degrees
  2. Slice and shave your vegetables
  3. In a small bowl, mix the shaved brussels with a little bit of oil (and s&p)
  4. In another small bowl, toss the zuchinni with a little bit of oil (and s&p)
  5. Slice tomatoes, set aside.pizza4

  6. In a small bowl, mix ricotta, herbs, salt, pepper, parmesan and grate fresh garlic into the mixture.pizzapizza2
  7. Slowly add milk a bit at a time and whisk until it is smooth and spreadable
  • Taste and adjust seasonings (including herbs) to suit your taste.
  • I used a fair amount of dried herbs in this. You can absolutely use fresh if you have them on hand.
    • Set aside.pizza3

  1. Prepare your dough.pizzadough4pizza5
  2. Roll out the dough to suit your baking vehicle (cast iron skillet, griddle, pizza stone, etc).
  3. Carefully remove baking vehicle from the oven, sprinkle with flour or corn meal.
  4. Carefully place your dough onto it.
  5. If you have ‘extra’ dough hanging, carefully roll it up and make a ‘border’ and brush it with oil
  6. Gently pierce the bottom of the dough with a fork to ensure it doesn’t bubble up too much when in the oven.pizza6
  7. Pre-bake the dough for about 3-4 minutes.

  1. Remove from oven.
  2. Spread ricotta mixture and make sure you leave about ½” space
  3. Sprinkle a bit of the shredded cheese
  4. Arrange the zucchinipizza17pizza15
  5. Bake for about 5 minutes

  1. Remove from oven.
  2. Sprinkle more cheese.
  3. Arrange tomatoes and distribute the shredded Brussel sproutspizza16
  4. Bake for about 5-10 minutes.

For simple balsamic reduction:

  • Pour about a quarter cup of balsamic vinegar into a pot over medium heat
  • Add about 2 tsp of sugar
  • Whisk to combine
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce heat
  • The liquid will reduce and coat the back of a spoon)

  1. Remove from the oven, sprinkle feta.pizza13pizza12
  2. Turn on broiler and broil until crust browns a bit. Be careful. Your pizza will burn. And you will cry.2pizza11pizza10

  1. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  2. Drizzle with reduction and enjoy!

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© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Simple Pizza Dough

When I was younger I lived in Long Island, NY. We had amazing pizzerias. I have fond memories of walking to the pizzeria and asking for a little bit of dough to play with. When I began cooking, I was queen of the Semi Homemade. I’d try store bought dough that came in the canister like biscuits (bleh). I’d tried a certain powder dough mix that came in a bag (also bleh). Occasionally I’ve lucked up on bagged fresh dough at the supermarket and that’s not too bad. I’ve come to prefer homemade dough. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh dough in the kitchen.

 

It’s easy to make and it yields enough for two smedium pizzas or several calzones or a shit ton of garlic knots. You can make this recipe ahead of time and store the dough in the freezer. Simply thaw it overnight in the fridge and you’re ready to go when it’s time to cook. Or you can use it straight away as I did this evening.

 

Ingredients:

 

3-4 Cups of AP flour

1 ½ tsp salt

3 tbsp of olive oil (plus extra for brushing)

1 tbsp of sugar

1 pack of fast rise yeast (2.5 tsp)

1 1/3 cups of very warm water

 

Directions:

 

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F and turn it off.

 

  1. In the bowl of your mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar and the warm water.
  2. Add the yeast.pizzadough
  3. Allow it to proof for about 10 minutes. It will become frothy and fragrant.
    • If nothing happens, you’re yeast is dead. Scrap it and try again.

 

  1. Combine the flour and salt.

 

  1. In your mixing bowl attach your hook attachment, add the oil and turn the mixer on low.
  2. Carefully add your flour+salt mixture.

 

  1. Mix on low until combined well.

 

  1. If the dough is sticky add flour one tbsp a time. If you touch it, it should spring back without sticking to your fingers.

 

  1. Beat for 5 minutes on medium-low

 

  1. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about a minute.

 

  1. Form into a bowl.

 

  1. Oil a bowl, place ball into bowl. Turn so it is coated in oil.

 

  1. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.

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  1. Place in oven (make sure you have turned it off after it preheated to 200). Keep the door ajar.

 

  1. Allow to rise for about 30 minutes then punch it down.pizzadough3
  2. Place back in oven and allow to rise until it is doubled in size.pizzadough4
  1. You can portion this for freezing, use right away or both.
  • If you’re going to freeze, carefully and tightly wrap in plastic wrap and store in a ziplock bag for up to a month.

 

Weeknight Chicken and Dumplings

The weather has dropped suddenly in Washington, DC and it has been feeling like Autumn all week. I couldn’t wait to make a nice homey comfort dish. Chicken and dumplings is a favorite in my family.

cd16When I have the time and energy, I prefer to make a huge batch starting with homemade stock. But today is Wednesday. That is not a Wednesday meal for me. Tonight, I adapted it to suit a weeknight meal. Mostly homemade but the broth got a helping hand from some store-bought reduced sodium stock. We’ll punch it up, though, no worries.

I like to add garlic and herbs to my dumping dough for an added layer of flavor. Feel free to adapt and adjust to suit your preferences.

Autumn, here we come!

 

Ingredients:

4-6 boneless chicken thighs

Four stalks of celery

One med-large onion

3-4 carrots

4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 32 oz container of reduced sodium chicken stock

Fish sauce

Worcestershire sauce

All-purpose flour

Kosher salt

Black pepper

Crushed red pepper

Garlic powder

Rosemary

Bell’s poultry seasoning

 

 

 

  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Brown chicken thighs, do not cook through, over med high heat.
    • I used four boneless, skinless chicken thighs. You can use whatever chicken you prefer, though. It’s also easy to scale the recipe up or down.
    • Be careful with breasts as they tend to dry out if not handled properly.cd2cd3
  1. Chop your vegetables
  2. Remove chicken thighs from heat
  3. Add veg and salt and pepperScreen Shot 2017-08-30 at 7.53.32 PMcd4
  4. Add a 1/2 container of reduced sodium chicken broth, stir and scrape up the bottom of the pancd5
  5. Add remaining 1/2 of the broth, fill container with water and add that to the pot as well
  6. Bring to a boil, add the chicken
  7. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.
  8. While the chicken is simmering, in a large bowl add 2.5-3 cups of flour, add about 2 rounded tsp salt, plus black pepper, garlic powder and rosemary to taste (or any other herb that you prefer).cd8
  9. Add ice cold water a few tbsp at a time. Stirring in the center of the bowl. Slowly incorporating flour from the perimeter, almost like making pasta.
    • Do this just until the dough comes together. If it is too wet add more flour, too dry then add more water.
  1. Dump the dough onto a floured surface. Sprinkle with flour and gently knead to make sure it’s not sticking. Press, or roll, the dough to about a 1/4″ thickness. Cut into your desired shape.cd9cd10cd11cd12
  2. Your chicken should be ready and tender after 20-25 min. Remove from stock, shred using two forks. Add back to the pot.cd6
  3. Taste your broth, add salt and pepper as needed. I also add about 1/4-1/2 tsp of Bell’s poultry seasoning, two splashes of fish sauce and a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Taste and adjust.cd7
  4. Bring to a boil. Gently stir while you add your dumplings one by one. You don’t want to have big ol’ clumps of dough.
    • If you prefer a slightly thicker consistency, I create a slurry of corn starch, splash of Worcestershire and cold water.cd13cd14
  5. Once added and incorporated, allow to simmer for at least 10-15 min

 

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© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Lip-Puckering Key Lime Bars

KL1Key lime is one ingredient that I have never worked with. When I was grocery shopping last weekend I stumbled upon a huge display of key limes and I squealed. The produce guy looked at me like I was crazy but I immediately grabbed a bag and started thinking about what I would make.KL6

Key lime pie and key lime cheesecake are two of my most favorite desserts. I am just not crazy about super sweet and rich desserts; I’ll indulge once in a while. But key lime anything? I am always, always here for. The fragrance, the flavor, the tartness, the tingle in the back of my jaw? My favorite!

The taste of the creamy filling instantly makes me smile. I can’t wait to play with key lime more over this summer.

Be warned: this recipe is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t like sour things, if you’re afraid of a little puckering- use less lime juice or add a whipped cream topping too, but this recipe is for champs.

 

 

Ingredients:

 

For the crust:

  • 1 (heaping) cup of finely ground graham crackers
  • 6 tbsp melted unsalted butter

For the filling:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp of key lime zest
  • 2/3 cups of freshly squeeze key lime juice
  • 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • Reserve one key lime for garnish (either zest or thinly slice)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In the microwave or on the stove, melt your butter.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers into a fine crumb.KL3
  4. Slowly add the melted butter. The graham crackers will resemble wet sand.
  5. Spray your baking dish with cooking spray.
  6.  Line your baking dish.(I recommend an 8 x 8 or the next size up, which is what I used) with parchment paper (I did not and I had a helluva time removing my bars despite using cooking spray. I did that so you won’t have to go through that.)
  7. Spread your ground crackers into the dish and press down to make an even layer with your fingers.KL5
  8. Bake for about 10 minutes, the crust will be fragrant.
  9. Carefully remove from the oven (leave the oven on) and allow it to cool on a baking rack.
  10. While the crust is baking, zest your key limes and juice them (strain seeds).KL6KL7KL8
  11. Separate the yolks from the whites.KL9KL10
  12. In the bowl of a mixer, add the yolk and the lime zest.
  13. Using your whisk attachment, mix the yolk and zest on high until it thickens (at least 5 minutes)
  14. Reduce the speed, and in a steady stream, slowly add the condensed milk.
  15. Raise the speed back up to high until the mixture thickens.
  16. Once thickened, reduce speed, add the lime juice and mix until it is combined.
  17. Spread the filling over the cooled crust.KL11
  18. Bake for about 15 minutes (it should be set, but it should not brown).
  19. Halfway through rotate the dish. (Again it should not brown.)
  20. Remove from oven and place on baking rack, allow to cool thoroughly.KL12
  21. Chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight to allow them to fully set and firm up.

 

Optional:

  • Whip ¼ c and 1-2 tsp of confectioners sugar heavy cream in the bowl of your stand mixer on high until stiff peaks form and top your bars with whipped cream.
  • Garnish with lime zest or thin slices of lime

KL13KL14KL15KL18

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Grown Up Double Chocolate Brownies

Listen, these ain’t Betty Crocker’s brownies.

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These are sinfully indulgent. Butter, cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips throughout. Chocolate is absolutely the star of this recipe. The brownies are moist, gooey, not super sweet. You can also taste little flecks of salt.  I’m telling you, these are very grown brownies.

Add more or less chocolate morsels. Top with nuts. Go crazy! (But honestly, they are so f*cking good, they can stand alone.)

 

Ingredients:

1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 cups of granulated sugar

1 ¼ cups of cocoa powder

1 tsp coarse salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 ½ cup of flour

1-2 cups of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Chips

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Lightly grease a 9×13 or 11×7 baking pan (with butter, shortening, baking cooking spray)
  3. In a sauce pan, melt your butter over low heat and then add sugarbrownies
  4. Stir very carefully and cook for about 2 minutes. (do not skip this step)
  5. Pour this mixture into the bowl for your mixer
  6. Carefully beat in your salt, cocoa powder, vanilla and eggs one at a time
  7. Mix until well combined
  8. On low, add your flour.
  9. Using a spatula fold in the chocolate morsels.brownies3
  10. Spread batter into the baking pan (the batter will be thick, this is okay!)
  11. Carefully smooth the top of your batterbrownies4
  12. Bake for up to 30 minutes; start checking for doneness around 20 minutes
  13. Cool on a baking rackbrownies4 copy

 

brownies7brownies8brownies11brownies6

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Toasted Sesame Quinoa

A fun twist on a simple and versatile grain.

 

quin

 

Ingredients:

1 cup of quinoa

1-2 tsp of sesame seeds

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tbsp sesame oil

1/2 tbsp of sesame oil (reserved)

2 cups of low sodium chicken broth

 

  1. Over medium heat, add olive oil and sesame oil to a sauce pan.
  2. Add garlic and stir.quin2
  3. Add the quinoa and sesame seeds.quin3
  4. Toast and stir frequently for about 4-5 minutes.
  5. It will become highly fragrant.
  6. Add chicken stockquin4
  7. Bring to a rapid boil.
  8. Stir and reduce to a simmer.quin5
  9. Cook for about 15 minutes (or until the broth is fully absorbed).
  10. Add remaining sesame oil and stir.
  11. Fluff quinoa with a fork.
  12. Top with sesame seeds.quin6quin7quin8

 

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

The Only Crispy Oven-Baked Wings Recipe You’ll Ever Need

 

The people who know me best know that I have a “thing” about chicken with bones. My partner likes to credit himself with “changing my life” [emoji eyeroll]. Truthfully, he did expose me to the greatness that is the Popeye’s fried chicken breast. The truth is, I still adamantly refused to eat wings when out with friends. They’re just never crispy enough for me. The worst thing in the world is a plate of wings that look and smell delicious and then…..chewy, gummy skin. Wing. Ruined.

 

Several years ago he requested that I make him wings. As a person who didn’t eat wings, at the time, it was quite a challenge. I was grossed out every step of the way. I just tossed them in the oven and then threw some sauce on them. Quite shameful, really. Fast forward a few years, I decided to play around with this whole wing-thing again.

 

This time, I had a bit more cooking experience under my belt and the following recipe is the recipe that you never knew you needed. These are the easiest, crispiest wings you’ve ever had without added oil or frying! The secret? PARBOILING!

 

I have never attempted this recipe with “party wings” or frozen wingettes. I simply buy a family pack of wings and cut them into flats and drums. It’s a little added labor but it’s worth it (and it’s cheaper, to be honest).

 

This recipe works for a few wings or a helluva lot of wings. Just watch the clock!

 

Ingredients:

Chicken wings

Salt

Water

 

(Seriously. Dassit!)

 

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Cut your chicken into wings and flatssw1

You’re going to boil water like you’re making pasta aka heavily salted and a rolling boil.

Boil the chicken for 8-10 minutes.

Drain thoroughly.

Pat dry with paper towel.sw2

Place the chicken pieces directly onto a cookie sheet (no added oil, no foil)***sw3

Bake for about 30 minutes.

The wings will begin to turn golden brown.sw4

Flip the wings and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.

 

Voila. They’re done.

 

At this point, you can toss them in your favorite sauce. Tonight, we had ginger lime sticky wings. Or you can eat them as is, but believe me, these are the perfect vehicle for some yummy sauces.

***If you’re going to eat these without a sauce, season them well with your favorite blend of herbs and spices before putting on the cookie sheet.

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Crispy Ginger Lime Sticky Wings

Tonight is Saturday night and mama really did not feel like cooking. I was pleased to hear a simple request of “asiany wings with the ginger and stuff”. This is a simple recipe with simple methods that can be applied to any flavor wings you’re going for.

 

This sauce is packed full of flavor and super easy to make. It’s easily adjustable; if it’s too sweet, use less sugar. If it’s not spicy enough, add more sambal (or peppers). More or less ginger? Easy fix.

 

 

Ingredients:

 

For the chicken:

Chicken wings

Water

 

For the sauce:

¼ cup soy Sauce

2 tbsp of oyster sauce

2 tsp sambal oelek

3 cloves of garlic, grated

Thumb of ginger (about 1.5”) grated

3-4 tbsp of light brown sugar

juice and zest of one lime, a pinch of zest reserved

 

For the chicken:

 

  1. Using kitchen shears, cut your wings into flats and drumssw1
  2. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  3. You’re going to boil water like you’re making pasta aka heavily salted and a rolling boil.
  4. Boil the chicken for 8-10 minutes.
  5. Drain thoroughly.
  6. Pat dry with paper towel.sw2
  7. Place the chicken pieces directly onto a cookie sheet (no added oil, no foil).sw3
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes.
  9. While your chicken is in the oven, start your sauce.sauce1
    • Grate the garlic and the ginger
    • In a sauce pan, over medium heat, add all of the ingredients and stir.
    • Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
    • Keep an eye, the sauce will bubble and start to reduce.
    • Taste and adjust as you see fit.
    • When it’s perfect, remove from the heat.
  10. The wings will begin to turn golden brown.sw4
  11. Flip the wings and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.
  12. Toss the wings in the sauce.sw6
  13. Sprinkle reserved lime zest over sauced chicken.

sw7sw8sw9

One word. BOOM!

 

 

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved